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Panthers top Leafs, roll to 4th straight win

The SportsXchange

TORONTO -- After a poor start to the season, the Florida Panthers are on a roll with four wins in a row after their 3-1 over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday.

But it is too soon to start thinking about making a playoff spot just yet as far as the Panthers are concerned.

"We're looking for progress, we're looking for consistency in our play," coach Peter Horachek said. "We want to play the way we can play that's the main thing. We're not looking at the standings, not look at where we are."

Left winger Sean Bergenheim had a goal and an assist for the Panthers who earned their sixth win in their past seven games. They are 10-8-1 since Horachek replaced Kevin Dineen on Nov. 8.

"We tried to play shinny against an NHL team." said Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle. "They won all the 50-50 pucks."

Left winger Tomas Fleischmann and right winger Brad Boyes also scored for the Panthers (13-17-5). Center Aleksander Barkov added two assists.

Left winger Mason Raymond scored for Toronto (17-16-3).

The Panthers were coming off a win over the Canadiens in Montreal on Sunday while the Maple Leafs were coming off a loss against the Penguins on Monday. The day of rest seemed to help the Panthers.

"They were coming off a game the night before and we were able to take advantage of that," Boyes said. "If we start looking ahead the guys' heads start to get a little big. We just have to play the way we have the past few weeks. We can't do too much watching the standings. "

The Maple Leafs started slowly for the second game in a row. "I think tonight it was more fatigue than it was Monday," Carlyle said. "We came out flat."

Goalie James Reimer stopped 20 shots for the Maple Leafs, who dropped five of their past six games.

"I haven't given up belief in my teammates or the coaches," Reimer said. "We know what we can do. We did it last year and we did it this year (earlier in the season)."

Goaltender Scott Clemmensen stopped 28 shots for the Panthers and was deprived of his first shutout of the season and the eighth of his career by Raymond's 11th goal of the season at 3:43 of the third period. That put the Maple Leafs back into the game and cut the Panthers' lead to two goals. Center Peter Holland made a good individual effort to work his way to the outer edge of the left faceoff circle, and Raymond tipped in his shot.

The Maple Leafs heard boos when the Panthers took a 3-0 lead with two second-period goals.

Bergenheim scored his fourth goal of the season at 5:54 of the second after the Panthers kept the Maple Leafs hemmed in their own zone. Bergenheim rammed the puck home from the left side of the net after a flip pass from Barkov.

The boos were louder after Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf lost the puck to Boyes in the Toronto zone. Boyes had an open path to the goal. Reimer stopped his first attempt, but Boyes jammed in his own rebound for his ninth goal of the season.

Clemmensen made a big save on Toronto center Nazem Kadri in the final minute of the second period.

The fans were upset by what appeared to mental mistakes by the Maple Leafs.

But center Jay McClement feels that sometimes the mistakes are caused by physical lapses.

"It looks like they're mental mistakes but sometimes it's because of a physical thing like not moving your feet," he said.

The Panthers scored at 3:29 into the first period. Fleischmann's high shot from the outer edge of the left faceoff circle beat Reimer on his stick side for his fifth goal of the season.

NOTES: RW David Clarkson returned to the Maple Leafs' lineup Tuesday after serving a two-game suspension for an illegal hit in last Thursday's loss to the St. Louis Blues. ... Panthers LW Jonathan Huberdeau missed his second consecutive game due to a foot injury. ... Florida G Tim Thomas (lower body) missed his third game in a row. ... The Panthers are on a four-game Canadian trip that continues with a game against the Senators in Ottawa on Thursday and ends against the Jets in Winnipeg on Friday. ... The Maple Leafs opened a three-game homestand. The Phoenix Coyotes visit Air Canada Centre on Thursday, and the Detroit Red Wings arrive Saturday.
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